Every couple of years I do a series of “Bible Stories You’ve Never Heard” for my youth group. They love it. For high school students there’s no greater part of the Bible than the story of Ehud who smuggles a short sword in, stabs the king in the gut, loses the sword in the mans belly fat, then escapes through the sewer. It’s very Daniel Craig.
Most pastors, bible teachers, sunday school teachers, and pretty much every Christian prefer to ignore the more brutal parts of the Bible. We should probably just take them out and create two Bibles so as not to confuse people. One for the “Nice” people and one for the sick and twisted.
How gruesome are the Children’s stories we tell?
1. A teenager attacks a special forces soldier with a rock, cracking his skull. As the soldier lays unconscious on the ground, the boy then cuts the mans head off with his own sword.
2. After a group of sorcerers chant and dance around an alter all day, cutting themselves and cursing, the pastor steps up to pray. The alter is burned to dust in an instant. The pastor then grabs a sword, and kills all the sorcerers and incites a riot as a races down the mountain after the king.
3. A young man holds true to his faith and is arrested. He is sentenced to be eaten by starving lions. He miraculously survives. Because of his close relationship to the king, when he is found alive, the king throws the legislators along with their wives and children into the pit to be eaten alive.
It’s funny how we tell people to go “Read your Bible”, only thinking of the Jesus parts saying “Be strong and of good courage” or “Fear not for I am with you always”. We think of it as a motivational book, even taking dozens of stories and retelling them over and over to our kids. But many of those “Children’s Stories” like David, Elijah, and Daniel get cut off before the full story is concluded. We forget the rape, incest, adultery, idolatry, murder, embezzling; the list could go on and on. Name a crime and it’s been done in the Bible.
I thought of this recently as I began writing several ghost stories for Halloween based on stories from the Bible. The stories in the Bible are very condensed, and if you begin to read through them asking the questions to fill in the blanks, you can get an version of the Bible that is more lurid than 50 Shades of Gray and more brutal than The Odyssey.
Yes, my shelves are full of Bible Story books with bright colored images of prophets, kings, and miracles for my boys. I grew up hearing the stories the same as my boys have. But as I grew older and started reading the Epilogue that is left off of so many stories, I now smile as I close the story at bedtime. There is rarely a happily ever after.